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10 iOS paid apps worth buying for the kids

Interactive games, stories and learning programs to buy for the Apple device you hand over to the kids to play with

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The Monster at the End of This Book (iPad/iPhone/iPod touch) What began as a book and became a book on tape is now a truly interactive experience. Join loveable furry old Grover as he ties down pages and build walls to protect himself and the reader from the monster at the end of the book. The app version of this Sesame Street classic adds narration, animation, and interactive play to the original story. When you tap on Grover, he talks to you. As the story is read aloud, word highlighting helps to build beginning reader skills. This universal app works on both the big screen iPad and the smaller screen iPhone or iPod touch. There are many other interactive storybooks in the app store, including classics filled with other familiar characters from Sesame Street, Disney, and more. ($3.99, http://www.callaway.com)

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TableTots (iPad only) The makers of TableTots are known for simple educational apps that teach numbers and letters. This app is different. TableTots is a powerful tool for parents, teachers, and tutors to present concepts like sorting, counting, spelling, and even basic math. The table is a virtual workspace that you can fill with sets of letters, numbers, and shapes. The pieces can be moved anywhere on the screen. When you touch a letter, a number, or a shape, a friendly voice tells you the name of the object. TableTots comes with 6 colourful themes and “speed sets” of pieces that are organized according to activity. One set, for example, has one object for each letter of the alphabet. As you select and move the objects around, the iPad tells you whether you're touching a Zebra or a Xylophone. This is a great early learning tool, and a bargain at $1.99.

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Wood Puzzle Maze HD (iPad) Most kindergarten classes have one or more wooden puzzle toys, with big chunky pieces that can be removed then replaced with a satisfying click. The best-selling Wooden Puzzle apps reproduce this experience virtually. This new app for iPad includes 14 different puzzles designed to help toddlers and preschoolers develop logic and fine motor skills. Slide the pieces through the maze just for fun, or to accomplish a puzzle objective -- feeding the animals, for example, or capturing fireflies in a jar. See the App Store for other Wood Puzzle apps with sports and holiday themes. ($1.99, http://www.tropisounds.com)

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Yodel-Oh! (iPhone/iPod touch, iPad) Yodel-Oh! is a virtual version of a carnival shooting game. When the red targets appear, tap the screen with your finger. If you miss, the little hero in lederhosen goes up the hill, one step closer to the cliff at the top. Watch out for the nasty rams that try to push him to his doom, and be careful not to offend the Swiss Miss when she comes to visit. Yodel-Oh! features beautiful graphics, fun sound effects, and original music that's worth the price of admission by itself. Also available: Yodel-Oh! HD, an iPad version of the game (both are 99 cents, iPad sold separately).

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Millie Was Here: Meet Millie (iPad only) This interactive book borrows some fun tricks from pop-up books and interactive web sites. Each page has a button or slider that opens a flap or makes something else happen. Usually that something else is the sudden appearance of a cute video or photo starring Millie the dog, the star of this book. For many kids, the promise of “a dog on every page” might be enough to hold their attention. For kids who expect more, Millie Was Here also provides hidden stickers on each page, and one short game in which player explore the contents of Millie's couch. This free app is the first in a series of non-free interactive books. If you like this one, check out Millie and the Lost Key ($3.99 in the App Store, http://www.milliewashere.com)

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Big Fat Goalie (iPad/iPhone/iPod touch) This is a great, kid-friendly version of table-top hockey. Each player controls one side of the ice. There's no net, just a goal line, and the puck bounces off everything. Move your players to block the puck and send it back to the other side. Don't tell the kids but Big Fat Goalie is basically Pong with organ music, great sound effects, and big, chunky graphics. It's big fun for a buck. ($0.99, swipeware.com)

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Doodle Jump (iPad/iPhone/iPod touch) Doodle Jump was one of the first and best games released for iOS. It's easy to learn but never boring. The star of the game is The Doodler, a strange four-legged creature who never stops jumping. Your goal is to guide the Doodler up a never-ending series of platforms by tilting your device to one side or another. Steer clear of UFOs and monsters that pop up along the way. Various objects help The Doodler go higher, including springs, jet packs, propeller hats, and trampolines. If you're lucky you'll find a rocket or two. The game ends if The Doodler falls and touches the bottom of the screen, or if he jumps into a monster, a black hole, or a UFO. ($0.99, limasky.com, also available: Doodle Jump HD for iPad: $2.99, sold separately.

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Spider-Man: Total Mayhem (iPhone/iPod touch) An explosion in New York destroys part of a scientific facility. Now some of Spider-Man's greatest foes are loose in the city with a deadly virus. It's up to you, as Spider-Man, to stop them. With great power comes great responsibility! This game is relatively expensive, but the gameplay is impressive and fun. Touch the screen to jump, punch, or shoot webs. Combinations of buttons activate impressive combat moves, like using your webbing to grab then throw an opponent to the ground. Visit 12 levels in unique New York City locations as depicted in the comic book series. Battle from the rooftops to the subway and back again, and explore the city like Spider-Man, climbing walls and swinging on webs. ($6.99, www.spidermantotalmayhem.com)

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Parachute Panic HD (iPad) The charming hand-drawn graphics, great sound effects and bouncy music make this a game you will want to play and share with others. The object of the game is to guide parachutists safely past UFOs, helicopter blades, and thunder clouds to the deck of the ships below. Aim carefully or your guys may be eaten by sharks or attacked by blowfish. Everything about this game is fun. If you need to be convinced, download the “Lite” version first for free, then spend the $1.99 once you love it.

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SuperRope (iPad/iPhone/iPod touch) While you’re shopping, download the free SuperRope app: The object of the game is to climb as high as possible, jumping from rope to rope as you do. Avoid falling objects and obstacles that try to knock you off the ropes. Collect coins and gems along the way to increase your score, and use power-ups like rockets and magnets to help you advance ever higher. At the end of each level you can buy bonuses and power-ups to help you progress further. That's assuming you don't get bitten by a parrot or attacked by a pirate or flattened by an anvil or a piano along the way. (Free!)

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